Hawaiian Cultural Expert
Kaniala Masoe was born and raised in Hilo on Hawai’i island. Having musician parents and grandparents, he was raised around music and hula. At the early age of 3, Kaniala joined his parents on stage and has been gracing stages around the world since then.
As a graduate of Nawahiokalani’opu’u, Kaniala speaks fluent Hawaiian and is immersed in the Hawaiian culture. The values and cultural practices he learned while in school has helped to mold Kaniala into a humble and loving Hawaiian musician and dancer.
In 1992, at just 8 years old, Kaniala recorded his first album along side his parents as the group Aukahi Pride. In 1997, Aukahi Pride released their second album, Surfing With The Dolphins. In 2003, he won the Kindy Sproat Falsetto competition on Hawai’i island. During this time, Kaniala and his parents would perform nightly at Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel. Locals and guests would return to Uncle Billy’s weekly to watch their family perform. While working at Uncle Billy’s, Kaniala met Melody (a hired hula dancer) and thus their journey began.
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Kaniala Masoe and Melody Canto married in 2006 and started a family. They relocated their family from Hilo to Maui in 2009 in order to further Kaniala’s singing career. Kaniala and Mel decided to take a walk through Ka’anapali to hunt for live hula and music because they didn’t know where to start looking for musician work. Kaniala began singing at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel’s Hula Grill Ka’anapali and was also exposed to the Wedding Industry, where he and his music were admired by couples from all over the world. Melody and the kids would join him as hula dancers on some of his engagements. Their children were introduced to Hula at a young age and attended as many performances as possible with their parents.
Kani and Mel both have the same goal: to live by Hawaiian ideals and to keep their culture alive through Hula and music. They’ve turned their passion for performance into a production crew of dancers and musicians who are all working toward the same goal. They don’t have a work team; instead, they have one huge work ‘ohana. Many brilliant individuals may be found among their performing ‘ohana, contributing to their outstanding and well-balanced product that showcases authentic culture. Their group’s cohesiveness is evident in all of their performances.
When watching them perform, one may see a variety of chants and dances, as well as Kaniala’s original songs and chants. ‘O Moloka’i,’ a chant penned by Kaniala as a tribute to Laka and the island of Moloka’i, is one of our favorites. Tradewinds of Aloha, a wonderful hapa haole mele written by Kaniala’s mother about the aloha spirit and how it flows through all of us like the cool island trade winds, is another unique song that can be seen during their performance.
All of the dances in the show Huaka’i Luau – Journey Through Polynesia are inspired by Kani and Mel’s own experiences as parents, musicians, and dancers throughout the years. It’s an incredible way for them to convey their love story in an indirect manner.